Old China Hands 1 September

Good numbers

Yes, we are back to good attendance with the lunch of Old China Hands 1 September. We were 30! I wonder when we could have again around 40…
I was happy to welcome old friends from Australia visiting China, William from Xian, and of course the usual regular members.
Greg organized a surprise cake with a speech and a song for his Chinese friend who is leaving for London to study. She was really impressed and emotional. And we all had two deserts this time!

For once I am in the pictures! Food was great as usual, thanks Renaat Morel and his team.
Next lunch planned for Friday 6 October.

Our “famous OCH of the month”

Dr. David Feng or as we known him “Mr. Railways”.
David is Chinese by birth, Swiss by passport, and has spent many years in London, as well as in many other cities, notably those with developed public transport.
With over 530,000 kilometers by rail, metro, tram, monorail, and other forms rail transport across Europe, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas, he is, we can say, “well-travelled”. He is particularly knowledgeable about the rail systems in China, Switzerland, and the UK.
He has been to over 2,500 rail, metro, and tram stations, including every single station on the world’s busiest and (by route) longest metro network (the Beijing Subway), and the oldest such network, the London Underground.
He acts like the journalist-on-the train, taking notes, pictures, shooting video clips and talking on his podcasts and other media.
His travels made him a detail-oriented specialist in concepts of railway station design, operations, and usability. He is a famous rail media personality, through many years of social media postings about the railways of China.
He helped the rail network in the UK translate signs from English to Chinese. He firmly remains in this field, as through his published book, the “Everyday Rail English” series by the China Railway Publishing House. Many signs were improved with his active participation. He has also trained thousands of Beijing Subway staff with similar bilingual publications and talks.

He is regularly featured on Chinese and worldwide media. I collected some of the latest articles, see here:


Birthday party for Mark Levine

A real big party

On 18 February 2023 a real big birthday party for Mark Levine, attended by many of his friends. Of course with Mark giving a speech, having his birthday cake, playing his music.
He received some presents and personal congratulations, from Michael Crook and government officials. Fu Han sent her best wishes from the USA with a video.

The guest of honor was obviously Isabel Crook, accompanied by two of her sons. What an honor! I was also happy to have a short chat with her.

Mark Levine in the media

Mark has also had his podcasts of the Bridge Podcast, see here an overview.

23 February 2023 – Mark Levine: sing songs about China
From community organizer and volunteer in the US to winning China’s “Friendship” award and working as a volunteer across China, Dr. Mark Levine uses his time to help others. Need inspiration to change the world? Listen to a singer song writer building bridges between the US and China through Music, education, writing and giving back to the global community. He inspires our host; he’ll inspire you. And he concludes the show with an inspirational piece of music. This is The Bridge: our interview with Dr. Mark Levine, American in China.
Listen here from The Bridge Podcast.

I interviewed ‘Mr. China,’ Dr. Mark Levine, about his 20 years living in China, his China Friendship award and his life as a professor and folk singer. (The Bridge Podcast)
Part 1 of a 3 part series with Mark.
Dr. Mark Levine, An American Who Loves China
Watch here on YouTube.

It’s The Kites That Own The Sky – By American Country Singer in China, Dr. Mark Levine (The Bridge Podcast).
Watch here on YouTube.

American Folk Singer Dr. Mark Levine Sings Chinese Song “Gan wen lu zai he fang” (The Bridge Podcast).
Watch here on YouTube.

An American Community Organizer on Making China His Home (The Bridge Podcast).
Watch here on YouTube.

How Does an American Sociologist become a Folks Singer in China (The Bridge Podcast).
Watch here on YouTube.

Gilbert’s interview during the party

Interview with Gilbert “How to see the real China” on 18 February 2023 during the birthday party for Mark Levine. I explain how I introduce China to foreign visitors.
Watch here on Vimeo.

Old China Hands 4 August

Good turnout

Our previous lunch had only 15 people, so I feared our Old China Hands 4 August lunch would be similar. Well. happy to say we were 24, a great turnout as many are still travelling.
Food of Morel’s Restaurant was great as you can see in the pictures, Renaat was still in Belgium but he does keep a VERY close eye on what’s going on! He sent me two pics he took from the restaurant CCTV cameras, he can watch it in his mobile.

So this time I am in two pics for once.

Next lunch

Next lunch planned for Friday 1 September. Let’s cross fingers for a bigger crowd!
For our lunch Susan was already back from her Europe trip. Renaat is back on 6 August.

Belgian National Day in Beijing

Yes on 21 July

For many years Belgian National Day in Beijing was shifted to 15 November, King’s Day because of the summer holidays. A lunch reception was rather for the diplomats, we attended the evening reception along with some 120 Belgians and friends. The weather was threatening the fun, the embassy put a big tent on the patio, good idea as it rained the whole day till late afternoon. It was all in the residence, next to the new embassy that is nearing completion.

It was also the farewell of Ambassador Dr. Jan Hoogmartens and other staff of the embassy. We will all miss them, they were our support during the depressing COVID years.
The new ambassador is said to arrive in Beijing very soon.

Good food, beer and more

We were treated with great Belgian goodies, Belgian fries, Brussels waffles, delicious buffet by Morel’s Restaurant and lots of Belgian beers.
The mystery machine in pic 07 is an authentic Brussels waffle machine.
The ambassador opened the Methuselah Chimay bottle, yes 6 liters! I gave it a try (of course). Happy to discover two new beers for my collection, see pic 13.

Learn more about Belgium

Check this interesting article: “30 things I’ve learned about Belgium in 30 years.
The Brussels Times 1 June 2023


Old China Hands 7 July

After the COVID years…

Many of members were traveling in China and the world so our lunch Old China Hands 7 July had only 15 people. Many left for the first time since a few years due to COVID. We expect the next lunch lunch on 4 August to be the same, most are away for July and August.

But we still had a great lunch and chat. The food by Renaat Morel’s team, delicious as always.

Home is Where the Heart is

A book is coming out very soon, telling the China stories of several of our members: Mark Levine, Raja Magasweran, Terry Crossman and yes myself. I also know well most of the other contributors.

The book is the work of New Star Press with Chen Shuo the talented reporter who skillfully wrote my story. The book is to be published in USA by Waymont International Publishing House with the title “Home is Where the Heart is”.
See another book it published “I Grew up in China” :230210 growingup and the announcement of our book: 230210 Wheretheheartis,

A bit weird but The U.S. publishing company cannot be found on the Internet…
I already have the full PDF of the book and I made a PDF of only my part, 33 pages with many of my pictures.
Except for one single sentence (no details!) the text is absolutely correct.
Now waiting for the hard copy!